|What actor/actress would you most like to work with?
Jack Nicholson. “I just love him.”
What’s your favorite film from the past five years?
“Moulin Rouge” “It was the perfect film. Everything about it.”
Which character in a film have you watched and wished you could’ve played?
Gary Cooper in “High Noon”
Only Morgan Freeman could turn a conversation about socks into riveting cinema.
In the scene in “Million Dollar Baby,” Freeman, with his feet up and talking about being completely content with what little material possessions he’s accumulated in life, has always seemed completely at ease with the barest necessities.
Throughout his career, Freeman, 67, often needed nothing more than a baseball mitt (“The Shawshank Redemption”), white suit (“Bruce Almighty”) or, in this case, worn-out socks while playing the sage. No matter how dire the circumstance — think his presidential role in “Deep Impact” — Freeman’s voiceover never fails to sooth.
“I can’t deny it,” Freeman says of why so many of his characters over a 40-year career are often the calming force. “I’m not conscious of the way I make these choices but I guess I’m drawn to these characters.”
In “Baby,” Freeman plays Eddie “Scrap-Iron” Dupris, a grizzled ex-fighter who lost one eye in his last bout and is now hanging out in the gym of longtime friend and former trainer Frankie Dunn, played by Eastwood.
“I had read the script and went to Clint with it,” he explains. “He says, ‘So I hear you’re interested in the role’ and I said, ‘Yes, indeed.’ ”
The two worked together in 1992 on “Unforgiven,” which won both best picture and director honors for Eastwood. Morgan knows how to pick his spots as many critics are saying this may be Eastwood’s best film since.
The two remained friends in the 14 years between films and Freeman was eager to work with him again. He remains amazed at Eastwood’s simple but effective directorial style.
“I have no idea of what he does or how he does it, except of who he hires,” Freeman reflects. “He has a crew he works with all the time (cinematographer Tom Stern and 89-year-old production designer Henry Bumstead are longtime Eastwood collaborators) and seems to be the kind of director who’s very hands off with actors but hands on in terms of the whole picture. He can see everything and make it all cinematic.”
Freeman has received three Oscar noms. His first came 16 years ago in a role that put the Memphis native on the map, as pimp Fast Black in “Street Smart.” Two years later he was nominated for his perf in “Driving Miss Daisy” and in 1995 for “The Shawshank Redemption.”
If a fourth is to arrive, it will come in a film, as Freeman describes, that’s more about personal relationships than boxing.
“It’s a very deep love story,” he explains. “Clint’s character is a loner with too much heart and too much care to survive in a violent lifestyle. He doesn’t want her (Hilary Swank) to hurt but she’s so dedicated, willing and driven that he falls in love with her.
“It was a special script.”